Louise Minihan’s resignation is the fourth by a Sinn Féin councillor in recent weeks, among them its longest-serving southern representative, Dublin councillor Christy Burke. All have stated “policy differences” as their reason for leaving the party.
It is believed Ms Minihan, a 28-year-old south city representative, intends joining the militant republican group, Éirigí, which broke away from Sinn Féin in 2006. She would become the organisation’s first elected representative.
Last night an Éirigí spokesperson said they had no comment to make on Ms Minihan’s resignation, but Sinn Féin sources said “they would not be surprised” if she joined the breakaway group. Ms Minihan’s partner is a member of Éirigí and, in her resignation statement, she highlighted several of the group’s key areas of disagreement with Sinn Féin.
Ms Minihan said: “Like thousands of other republicans before me, I have come to the conclusion that the battle for the heart of Sinn Féin is lost.”
Active in Sinn Féin youth section since the mid-1990s, many of Ms Minihan’s associates from that period have already left the party to join Éirigí in recent months. Ms Minihan, who was initially co-opted on to Dublin City Council in 2007, has recently attended Éirigí-organised protests.
Éirigí initially split with Sinn Féin following a dispute over the selection of a Dublin 2007 general election candidate and has since grown in support largely in the capital and Northern Ireland. Although the organisation is opposed to political violence, it has been linked with the recent riots in Ardoyne, and a former member, Colin Duffy, has been charged with the March murder of a PSNI constable in Armagh.
Reacting to Ms Minihan’s resignation, Sinn Féin TD Aengus O Snodaigh said it was “deeply disappointing” that she had waited until after the election to resign after winning her seat as a party member.
All Sinn Féin election candidates sign a pledge that if they resign from the party they will also resign their council seat, something both Ms Minihan and Mr Burke are refusing to do.